By Sara Valle-Martínez
Apart from teaching us about our ancestors, art is a means of communication to express our feelings, thoughts, and even beliefs without words. In fact, it can help us inadvertently understand someone better. Sometimes that is especially helpful with children.
You may think children are simple and you know what they need and want. But are you really sure? After all, every person is different, and children are just grown-ups in the making.
“Art is something that is encouraged every day in our school,” said Ismael López, 26, who works as a teacher in Oasis Academy Silverton in East London. “It improves children’s self-esteem, creativity and teamwork.”
As López said, art has proven to help children with self-expression and managing their feelings as well as improving their confidence, self-steem, patience, concentration, and even motor and organisational skills.
The Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art has its own educational program, which in collaboration with schools, helps these – perhaps – artists in the making communicate better.
The gallery is located in 39A Canonbury, in a restored Georgian town house, near Highbury and Islington station in North London. It holds the private collection of Eric and Salome Estorick.
The collection includes artwork by different Italian artists like Giuditta Scalini, Renato Guttuso, Gino Severini or Umberto Boccioni – his Model Idol is a children’s favourite – among others.
The Estorick’s educational program has proven to be an enriching experience for children, with guided tours and workshops involving drawing lessons and games, as well as futurism, portraiture or still life.
Jenny Pengilly, the gallery’s educational coordinator, knows about the benefits of art, as she studied it herself. She has been part of the Estorick gallery’s team for seven years and working with children is one of her favourite things.
Pengilly said: “We encourage open interpretation to get [children] to think about what they see and that it is valid instead of telling them what it is. It’s more about the imaginative interpretation,” Ms. Pengilly said.
“I like using the artwork as a way to talk about different issues but also for them to talk about how they see things… It’s about sharing their voice through artwork.”
The gallery sometimes displays the children’s art, which Pengilly said is one of the most common requests and “children love it”. They can see their artwork hanging in the same space as Music by Luigi Russolo, which always catches children’s attention with its vivid colours.
López added: “Something I really like about these workshops is that children that usually don’t behave in class or don’t want to participate, are often the ones that behave the best. You can get to see this other side of them when they express their feelings through art.
“I think it’s key to make them feel we care about what they think and their creativity. I enjoy seeing my students doing that.”
Schools can get in touch with the gallery directly through e-mail email@example.com or telephone +44 20 7704 9522.
The Estorick Collection gallery also works with the council and other organisations to help build links between museums and schools.